My Top 5 Books of 2010 + a Gift

Happy New Year everyone!! I know I’m posting my last 12 Days of Christmas post a bit late, but I have a reason for it, I promise. Scroll down to the bottom for the gift portion of this post!

2010 was an amazing year for books. Out of the 62 books I read this year (see, I said I’d do better. I doubled last year’s total), I had nineteen 5 heart ratings. Out of those 19, I picked my top five (and it was hard!), and one honourable mention. So, in descending order with number 1 being my favourite, here they are!

5. Bleeding Violet
by Dia Reeves

Bleeding Violet is one of the crazier books I’ve read this year, in a great way. The story blends an amazing mix of reality and fantasy in such a way that the reader isn’t sure whether Hanna is suddenly in a mystical situation, or just crazy – because Hanna is pretty wild. This book is a perfect example of how an author can send a reader straight inside a characters head for the entire read. Hanna has such a strong presence about her. Great writing, and even better plot!

4. Thirteen Days to Midnight
by Patrick Carman

Thirteen Days to Midnight is such a unique book. I really enjoyed the plotline and characterization, and I’m always a fan of some angst. The imagery in this book had me right there in the story along with Jacob, O, and Milo, feeling their awe and excitement and then fear and uncertainy. The whole ride was just intense, and I loved every minute of it!

3. Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver

I read Before I Fall for the Debut Book Battle that was held this year over at The Shady Glade. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, especially since at the beginning I did not like our main character Sam, and I was a little apprehensive about how I would handle the subject matter. Thankfully, Sam goes through incredible growth during the book and her character becomes quite likeable. And the book – the writing drags you in to the story and keeps you invested in Sam and her journey. By the end, even though I was in tears, I loved every minute I spent reading. Lauren Oliver is on my auto-buy list after her debut. I loved it.

2. Rot & Ruin
by Jonathan Maberry

Zombies! Of course I had to have a zombie book on this list, and Rot & Ruin is it. The utter desolation that shines through in Maberry’s writing is amazing. I’m all for the end of the world scenarios, and having that done by zombification is perfect in my mind. I enjoyed the traditional but still new take on zombies, and even just the name the characters have for outside their small townships – The Rot & Ruin. Doesn’t really lend itself to hope, does it? And yet, this book is so full of hope, and ordinary people overcoming great odds. Definitely a must read for any zombie fan.

1. Brightly Woven
by Alexandra Bracken

I don’t really have much more to say on this one. I’ve been singing it’s praises for most of the year, now. I absolutely love the world that Alexandra Bracken has created in Brightly Woven. A wonderful example of full-on fantasy, Sydelle and North are believable, fully-formed characters in a completely different land. The lore, background, history and peoples are great, and I connected with Sydelle immediately. And come on – who can’t love North? Such a wounded man, and yet loveable. Brightly Woven is my favourite of the year, and I cannot wait to see what else Alexandra has up her sleeves.

Honourable Mention
And my one honourable mention. Not a full novel, but an anthology, Zombies vs. Unicorns was a definite surprise this year. I’d never read an anthology before, and I loved the whole concept (zombies, of course. And don’t spread it around, but I was a complete Team Unicorn when I was younger. Hey, things change!) of the Teams. Holly’s and Justine’s banter in the introductions to each story was humourous and one of my favourite parts. This book contains so many wonderful authors in one place, and each story is well-worth the read.

And now for the last giveaway of The 12 Days of Christmas! One person will win a copy of one of my favourite books! (their choice, of course).

GIVEAWAY
One winner – One book (out of these six)
Comment with an e-mail address to be entered
Open international to wherever the book depository ships
Contest closes 11:59pm EST January 12, 2011
Spread the word for an extra entry, and leave me the link!

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April’s Top 100 YA Book List

While browsing google reader, I came across a few bloggers mentioning the Top 100 YA Book List compiled by April @ Good Books and Good Wine. I clicked over to her blog to check out the list and it’s pretty awesome. There are some great books mentioned, and a ton that I’ll be looking into in the near future.

Like the numerous memes I once did on LJ about “how many movies/books/tv shows have you seen/do you own” (and like Shanyn @ Chick Loves Lit did), I’ll bold the ones I’ve read, italicize the ones I own, and underline ones I’ve started but haven’t finished. I think I’ll re-do that LJ book meme over here in the next day or two and compare my answers now from five years ago, too. I should have a lot more of them read by now. In the meantime, here’s April’s list!

 

100. Hate List by Jennifer Brown
99. Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix <- I've read the first one
98. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
97. Among The Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
96. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Claus
95. Forever by Judy Blume
94. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
93. Tithe by Holly Black
92. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
91. Wings by Aprillynne Pike
90. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
89. Angus, Thongs And Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
88. Marked by PC And Kristin Cast
87. Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
86. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
85. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
84. I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
83. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
82. The Mediator series by Meg Cabot
81. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
80. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
79. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald <- had to read it for school, I skimmed it
78. Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen
77. Evernight by Claudia Gray
76. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
75. Life As We Knew It series by Susan Beth Pfeffer <- though not the newest one yet
74. Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
73. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
72. Alana: The First Adventure series by Tamora Pierce
71. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
70. Unwind by Neil Shusterman
69. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
68. Paper Towns by John Green
67. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
66. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
65. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
64. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time by Mark Haddon
63. The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
62. Blue Bloods series by Melissa De La Cruz <- I've only read the first one
61. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
60. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
59. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
58. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
57. Eragon by Christopher Paoloni
56. Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine
55. The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith
54. Fallen by Lauren Kate
53. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot
51. Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke <- I've only read the first one
50. Number The Stars by Lois Lowry
49. Lord Of The Flies by William Golding <- I did not like this book, skimmed end half
48. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
47. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares
46. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
45. The Summoning series by Kelley Armstrong
44. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
43. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
42. Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card
41. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
40. Wake series by Lisa McMann
39. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
38. Are You There Good? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
37. Looking For Alaska by John Green
36. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
35. A Great And Terrible Beauty series by Libba Bray <- never finished the first one
34. His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman <- I've only read the first one
33. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
32. Romeo And Juliet by William Shakespeare
31. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
30. Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr
29. Forest of Hands And Teeth by Carrie Ryan
28. Holes by Louis Sacher
27. The Outsiders by SE Hinton
26. The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger
25. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
24. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
23. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
22. Uglies series by Scott Westerfield
21. Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
20. Poison Study series by Maria V. Snyder
19. Book Thief by Markus Zusak
18. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carlson Levine
17. Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
16. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
15. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
14. Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery
13. The Giver by Lois Lowry
12. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare <- I've only read the first two
11. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
10. Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis <- I've read bits and pieces of each book
9. A Wrinkle In Time series by Madeline L’engle <- I've read the first and third books
8. Graceling series by Kristin Cashore
7. Percy Jackson And The Olympians by Rick Riordan
6. Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
5. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
2. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
1. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

 

Alright, that’s 30 for me + 8 series that I’ve started but not finished + 2 that I didn’t finish because they were just not my cup of tea. There are a couple I own but haven’t read yet, so hopefully they’ll get bolded sooner rather than later.

I’ve also never considered The Great Gatsby, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and The Catcher in the Rye to be young adult. I’ve always seen/known them as adult books, and they’re all located in the general fiction section of my local bookstores. Likewise, The Poison Study series is located in the Fantasy/Sci-fi section. So I wonder, do you consider these 5 books YA? If so, why? If not, why not? (I’m just curious)

 

My Top 5 Books of 2009

 

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had an amazing night, and that 2010 has started out well for you.

2010 is looking to be an awesome year for YA lit. Not only do we get some sequels to amazing books published in 2009, but he debut author books look to be terrific. While I’m contemplating just how many books I’ll be attempting to read this coming year, I thought I’d post the my top five books from the 32 books I read in 2009 (I will do SO much better this year, I swear!). In descending order, number 1 being my favourite, here they are!

5. Shiver
by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver is a whirl-wind romance between two people who have to fight to stay together. Sam has to fight to stay human, instead of giving in to the cold and becoming a wolf, and Grace has to fight to keep Sam from giving in. The story is wonderfully written and well paced, I enjoyed Maggie Stiefvater’s take on the werewolf and she has a gift with imagery. Shiver would work as a stand alone novel, although we are getting a sequel this year!

 

4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan

Zombies. What more can I say? The brilliantly amazing love child of the movie The Village and Max Brooks’ World War Z, The Forest of Hands and Teeth sees our heroine living in a village deep in the forest – a forest filled with unconsecrated. The fence is the only thing seperating Mary, everyone she loves, and the horrible living dead that inhabit the forest. Unfortunately, Mary’s world is soon turned upside down. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a journey in suspense, sorrow, hope and love. The sequel is out this year, and I cannot wait!

 

3. The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

I originally picked up this book, read a couple pages and set it back down! It took me months to pick it up again, and once I got passed page 22, I was hooked for good. The Hunger Games is an intense look into Katniss’ world, where children are sent to compete, to the death, in The Hunger Games. There can only be one winner, and Katniss is determined to win and get back home to her mother and younger sister. The world Suzanne Collins created in this book is rich in detail and her writing is engaging and well paced. I never felt overwhelmed, or bored, and as soon as I put the book down I wanted the sequel. Thank God it was already out and I was able to go buy it the next day!

 

2. The Demon’s Lexicon
by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon’s Lexicon was the book that got me involved in book blogging. Before I started this blog, I never kept lists of books I wanted to buy, or anticipated book releases (except for Harry Potter and Anita Blake). I had already known of Sarah before I knew about her upcoming book, and as soon as I heard, I was eagerly awaiting it’s publication. The Demon’s Lexicon was so much better than I was expecting (and I was expecting a lot). I already knew I’d love Sarah’s writing style – she has such a unique way of mixing humour, drama and adventure. I devoured this book, and I was utterly happy with it. I loved Nick and Mae and Jamie and Alan and their interactions with each other. The subtle hints that Sarah peppered throughout the book about the big reveal were perfect, and I have high hopes for the sequel!

 

1. Lockdown: Escape From Furnace
by Alexander Gordon Smith

Lockdown was my surprise of the year. I intially came across mention of this book on Dannie’s blog Opinionated? Me?, and thought it sounded interesting. I noticed it wasn’t yet released, but that’s ok, I could wait (I had no idea if I’d even like it, after all). Then lo and behold, Kristi from The Story Siren was giving away her copy. I grabbed it up, recieved it in the mail the same day the book was released, and got around to reading it a couple of weeks later.
I. Loved. It. So much that I’m actually contemplating buying the two sequels from the UK Amazon because I do not want to wait for them to be published here. Lockdown was creepy, intense, horrifyingly raw and real and so, so good. Alex’s experiences in Furnace, the world’s most secure prison for young offenders (reminds me of Crematoria from The Chronicles of Riddick, only worse) are jarring. I couldn’t put the book down, though. I was so invested in the characters and their situation. Easily my favourite book from 2009, hands down.

 

Honourable Mentions

Dull Boy by Sarah Cross came very, very close to my top five. So much so that I’d be inclined to say it could have tied for fifth with Shiver. Teens with powers who try to be superheros while still being average? I loved it.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore isn’t a young adult book, but oh how I loved this book. I laughed so hard at some points, and since I’m not really religious, I didn’t have to worry about being offended at all. Seriously, if you don’t mind humourous interpretations of the story of Jesus, read this. It’s so worth it.

Thanksgiving Weekend

thanksgiving Happy Thanksgiving!!

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful family dinner at some point (and has enough leftovers to last a week!). My family supper is this evening and I’m busy baking up a storm – pumpkin tarts and pie, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and even pumpkin bread (can you tell what my part of the family is in charge of? Dessert!).

Thanksgiving is a day that I fully believe is meant for family and close friends, and we should give thanks for everything good in our lives. Thanksgiving the last two years has been missing an essential member of the family (love you Bran), and this year we are missing a second member of the family (love you Grand-dad). I still have many things in my life I am thankful for, though – my continued health (and the health of the rest of my family), that I have a good job that I love, and I have friends I can depend on. I’m thankful that I get enough food to eat, and a roof over my head, and that I’m loved unconditionally. There are many more, but those are the main ones.

Because this is a book blog, I thought I’d leave you all with some fun children’s books about Thanksgiving!

clifford thanksgiving

Clifford’s Thanksgiving Visit by Norman Bridwell

Franklin's Thanksgiving

Franklin’s Thanksgiving by Paulette Bourgeois

magic treehouse 27

Magic Treehouse #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne

thanks for thanksgiving

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend? And do you have any good books about the holiday to suggest?

Post-Apocalyptic Dystopias: Top 15

This book list is credited to bryoneybrynn who had asked for some sci-fi recs, with a lean towards dystopias, over on her livejournal. As I replied to her entry, I realized I had about 14 or 15 books to recommend she read; many of them are both post-apocalyptic and present a dystopian society. A few are one or the other, and some are also considered part of the cyberpunk genre. A couple are repeat recs. Recs are in no particular order. Each book will have a link to its entry on Indigo’s website (Canadian book company), a link to a wikipedia entry (if there is one), a brief summary, and original publish date.

WARNING: Wikipedia entries contain spoilers; read at your own risk.

1. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
First Published: 2003
Wikipedia Link: Oryx and Crake
Summary: The narrator of Atwood’s riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. He searches for supplies in a wasteland where insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster, he explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes – into his own past, and back to Crake’s high-tech bubble-dome, where the Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief.

2. On The Beach by Nevil Shute
First Published: 1957
Wikipedia Link: On The Beach
Summary: They are the last generation, the innocent victims of an accidental war, living out their last days, making do with what they have, hoping for a miracle. As the deadly rain moves ever closer, the world as we know it winds toward an inevitable end….

3. He, She and It by Marge Piercy
First Published: 1991
Wikipedia Link: He, She and It
Summary: In the middle of the twenty-first century, life as we know it has changed for all time. Shira Shipman’s marriage has broken up, and her young son has been taken from her by the corporation that runs her zone, so she has returned to Tikva, the Jewish free town where she grew up. There, she is welcomed by Malkah, the brilliant grandmother who raised her, and meets an extraordinary man who is not a man at all, but a unique cyborg implanted with intelligence, emotions–and the ability to kill….

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Fantasy Series: Top 10

I went through a period where I devoured fantasy novels, usually belonging to a series. Included here is also one sci-fi series, since I don’t read enough sci-fi to do a separate list. Recs are in no particular order. Each series will have a link to the first book on Indigo’s website (Canadian book company), a link to a wikipedia entry (if there is one), a brief summary, a list of books in the series, and original publish date.

WARNING: Wikipedia entries contain spoilers; read at your own risk.

1. The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass
First Book Published: 1995
List of Books: The Wayfarer Redemption/BattleAxe, Enchanter, Starman, Sinner, Pilgrim, Crusader
Wikipedia Link: The Wayfarer Redemption
Summary: For a thousand years the Acharites have lived prosperous lives, protected by vast and insurmountable mountains and the powerful Seneschal, guardians of the mysterious Way of the Plow and intermediaries with the great god Artor.
But now Achar’s security is threatened as a millennia-old prophecy predicting the return of the Forbidden Ones flares into life. An unnatural winter grips the land as the Ice Lord Gorgrael moves his armies of demonic wraiths and Ice Worms south. Achar crumbles under Gorgrael’s murderous onslaught: it seems that no one can stop him.
Faraday, betrothed of Achar’s War Lord, Duke Borneheld, is as frightened as everyone else. While fleeing to safety with Axis, legendary leader of the Axe-Wielders and hated half-brother of Borneheld, Faraday learns that all she has been taught about her people”s history has been based on lies. Leaving the company of Axis — a man she secretly loves, although it would mean his death to reveal it — Faraday embarks on a journey that will forever change both her life and those of her people.
The Wayfarer Redemption is the beginning of an epic fantasy about honor, family, and love: of Faraday’s fight for one man’s love, and their struggles to free the people from the lies that have bound them…and lead them into the truth of the Star Gate.

2. Symphony of Ages by Elizabeth Haydon
First Book Published: 1999
List of Books: Rhaposdy, Prophecy, Destiny, Requiem for the Sun, Elegy for a Lost Star, The Assassin King
Wikipedia Link: Symphony of Ages
Summary: Rhapsody is a woman, a Singer of some talent, who is swept up into events of world-shattering import. On the run from an old romantic interest who won’t take no for an answer, Rhapsody literally bumps into a couple of shady characters: half-breeds who come to her rescue in the nick of time. Only the rescue turns into an abduction, and Rhapsody soon finds herself dragged along on an epic voyage, one that spans centuries and ranges across a wonder-filled fantasy world– a world so real you can hear the sweet music of Rhapsody’s aubade and smell the smoldering forges deep within the Cauldron.

3. Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
First Book Published: 1984
List of Books: The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, The Darkest Road
Wikipedia Link: The Fionavar Tapestry
Summary: Five Canadian students from the University of Toronto are pulled into the land of Fionavar. There, they each embark on a quest that brings them in contact with seers, dwarves, wizards and spirits, good and evil, and some old legends.

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Young Adult Fiction: Top 15

This rec list lists some of my favourite young adult books, and each one is very different from the other. There is a little something for everyone here (and you don’t have to be a teen to enjoy them!). Recs are in no particular order. Each book will have a link to it’s entry on Indigo’s website (Canadian book company), a link to a wikipedia entry (if there is one), a brief summary, a list of books in the series, and original publish date.

WARNING: Wikipedia entries contain spoilers; read at your own risk.

1. Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson
First published: 1996
Wikipedia link: Awake and Dreaming
Summary: Theo Caffrey lives with her young mother in the slums of Vancouver, and often dreams of living with a “real” family. On a ferry ride on her way to stay with her aunt in Victoria, Theo meets what she feels is a “perfect” family – the Kaldors. After making a wish that she belonged to them, and then fainting, Theo wakes up to find herself living with the Kaldor family. But the magic doesn’t last forever, and Theo desperately tries to find a way back to the family she came to love as her own.

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
First Published: 1993
Sequels: Gathering Blue, Messenger
Wikipedia Link: The Giver
Summary: Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

3. The Hollow Tree by Janet Lunn
First Published: 1997
Prequels: The Root Cellar, Shadow on Hawthorne Bay
Wikipedia Link: The Hollow Tree
Summary: It is 1777 and Phoebe Olcott is thrown headlong into the horrors of war when her beloved cousin Gideon is hanged for being a British spy. When she finds a message left by Gideon containing the names of Loyalist families to be protected by the King”s army, Phoebe knows she must deliver the message to the general at Fort Ticonderoga. She sets out into the wilderness and soon meets up with Jem, a young Loyalist travelling to the safety of British Canada.
Note: The Hollow Tree is the third book in a trilogy. As I just found this out today, the book is fine as a stand alone and you do not need to read the other two books first. In actuality, the trilogy is almost a reverse trilogy, with The Hollow Tree being almost a prequel to the first book published in 1981, The Root Cellar.

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